Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Art of Slowing Down

For as long as I could remember, I have always tried to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible. When I have a list of things to get done, I try to do as many of them as I possibly can at the same time to save time. I drive too fast, roll every stop sign between where I am and my destination, and try not to get caught speeding so I can be on time wherever I am going. When doing homework, I used to skim the assigned reading so I could be done with it and move onto to the next task. When I am eating, I have the next bite ready before I am done with the one in my mouth so I can finish faster. I live a high paced life and the more I can squeeze into a day, the better I feel.

From a young age, we are trained to move fast, finish things quickly, and don't even try driving the speed limit or you'll be the one who everyone speeds around with a piercing glare. We hate standing in line at the grocery store, fast forward through tv commercials when we can, and expect our webpage to load immediately when we click on it. Everything about our society seems accelerated, hurried, and always in a rush. The concept of patience is nonexistent.

Sometimes this rushed mentality that plagues our society seeps into our spiritual lives. I know I am guilty of looking at the time when church seems to be going over a few minutes, or I try to squeeze a few moments of intentional prayer on my walk to work, and the worst is going to bed and realizing that I didn't even give a spare moment of my day to open my Bible. But you better believe I checked my Instagram feed multiple times that day and all my emails were seen, read, or saved for later.

In the recent months, the pace of my life has slowed significantly. One of my New Year's resolutions is to stop rolling stop signs, to force myself to slow down. While the temptation to roll through the red light when I'm turning right, or going through the pointless stop sign in a parking lot is great, I am trying my best to come to a complete stop each time I am supposed to. This stopping and slowing down thing is hard though. Yes, it is a bad driving habit that is hard to stop but also in my spiritual life it is hard to force myself to slow down. To slow down, listen, pay attention, and surrender to the Holy Spirit.

Forcing myself to slow down in all areas of my life, especially in my walk with God has been more difficult that I anticipated. I thought if I stopped for a few days and prayed and meditated and journaled that I would wake up a few days later and everything would be better, or work out how I want, or be easier. But it doesn't. It takes time. It takes time for the caterpillar to be transformed into a butterfly while in it's chrysalis. This process cannot be rushed. If someone finds one of these delicate chrysalis's hanging so peacefully from a tree and wants to see what is inside, it could kill the butterfly inside if it is opened too soon. We must wait, and not rush, God's perfect process.

The same is true for us. We try to rush transformation in our lives. We think a few weeks, months, or a short season is enough to teach us what God is trying to communicate to us. Only God knows the exact timing we need in this season of transformation. Everyone's transformation takes a different amount of time. For some it could be shorter than expected, for others a little longer. We must learn the art of slowing down. The joy and peace that is found in the waiting. As we slow down, stop, wait, and listen to God, our lives are being transformed. Transformation does not happen over night.

In this season, I am learning what it means to slow down and be patient. To be where the Lord has me, be grateful for the people he has surrounded me with, and grateful for the transformation that I know is taking place, even when I cannot always see or sense it.

One way I trying to intentionally slow down in my life is taking in the beauty of the world God has created around me. I love the ocean (I'm going to pretend this is a picture of ocean, even if it's not!) and if I have a spare 15 minutes in the morning before work I stop by the beach or if I don't have somewhere to be when the sun it setting, I try to stop what I'm doing and take in how amazing our world and One who made it is. 

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